News from the Courts

Issue November 2010


U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Neiman reappointed

The judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts have re-appointed Magistrate Judge Kenneth P. Neiman, whose current term expires on Jan. 4, 2011. He has been approved for reappointment to a new eight-year term.

First appointed to the court in 1995, Neiman served as chief magistrate judge from 2006 to 2009. Prior to his service with the court, he was a partner at Fierst and Neiman in Northampton from 1981 to 1994.

Before that, he worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services and the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law in New York. In 1978, he was a non-resident research fellow with the Legal Services Corporation Research Institute.

Neiman graduated from Tufts University in 1967 and earned his juris doctor from Harvard Law School in 1971. He teaches as adjunct faculty at Western New England College School of Law and has taught at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and the Smith College School for Social Work. He was on the editorial board of the Federal Courts Law Review from 1999 to 2006.


SJC seeks Norfolk County Trial Court judge evaluations

The Supreme Judicial Court is asking attorneys to respond to questionnaires evaluating the performance of Norfolk County Trial Court judges.

The evaluation of Norfolk County judges in the district, juvenile, superior and probate and family courts by
attorneys, court employees and jurors began Oct. 18.

Attorneys who receive a questionnaire are asked to complete it, as the more responses received, the more accurate the evaluations will be. The Supreme Judicial Court's evaluation program is the best opportunity for attorneys to voice their opinions of the members of the judiciary.

Attorneys who have appeared repeatedly in these courts in the last two years, according to computerized court records, will receive questionnaires.

Most attorneys will receive an e-mail instructing them to log in to a secure Web site to complete the evaluation online. Paper evaluations will be distributed to attorneys with no e-mail on record. As required by statute, the evaluations are confidential and anonymous.

Results will be sent to the judge, the chief justice of Superior Court, the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court and the chief justice of administration and management.

Housing Court to offer limited assistance representation

Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan has approved a standing order requested by the Housing Court to introduce limited assistance representation (LAR), which became effective Nov. 1.

"Expansion of limited assistance representation into a new court department reflects the value of launching a focused Trial Court initiative on access to justice," said Mulligan. "I commend the Housing Court and I anticipate ongoing productive collaboration and coordination between the Access to Justice Commission and the Trial Court's Access to Justice Initiative."

Housing Court Chief Justice Steven Pierce said, "The Housing Court is pleased to offer this important resource to the large number of self-represented litigants appearing in our various courts. LAR allows litigants and lawyers the opportunity for selected representation, which controls costs and specifies the limits of the lawyer-client relationship."

In May 2009, based on the success of the LAR pilot project in the Probate and Family Court Department, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order approving the use of LAR in other court departments. The Probate and Family Court department introduced LAR across the state and the Boston Municipal Court introduced LAR last spring. The District Court plans to conduct a pilot program for civil cases in 2011.

Limited assistance representation is one of the four priority projects identified in the Interim Report on Access to Justice Initiatives in the Trial Court, which was issued in January. LAR permits an attorney, either for payment or pro bono, to assist a litigant on a limited basis without undertaking full representation of the client on all issues and events related to the client's case. Protocols and procedures for the use of LAR are established by each court department.

Visit to read the order.